December 2nd, 2009
06:40 PM ET
3 months ago

Rumsfeld says Obama made 'bald misstatement'

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he never received a request for more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he never received a request for more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Washington (CNN) – Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticized President Obama's assertion Tuesday that the Bush administration ignored requests for more troops to battle the Taliban, declaring the president's remark made during his address on Afghanistan a "bald misstatement."

Rumsfeld said Wednesday that during his time as Bush's Secretary of Defense, he was "not aware of a single request of that nature."

"The President's assertion does a disservice to the truth and, in particular, to the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan," Rumsfeld said in a statement. "In the interest of better understanding the President's announcement last night, I suggest that the Congress review the President's assertion in the forthcoming debate and determine exactly what requests were made, who made them, and where and why in the chain of command they were denied."

But Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since October of 2007, said Wednesday that the former top commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, had requested more troops during the previous administration, but they were sent to Iraq instead.


"In my tenure here, Gen. McKiernan specifically had a fairly substantial request for upwards of 20,000 forces which we couldn't meet because they just weren't there. They were in Iraq," Mullen said. "I spoke out early that Afghanistan was under resourced... We didn't have them because they were pushed to Iraq. We didn't have the flexibility to move them. That was the priority of a previous president. We do what the president says and that's what we did."

In his speech, Obama said his predecessors "repeatedly" ignored requests for more troops and said that this is one reason why he decided to send more.

"Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive," Obama said Tuesday night. "And that's why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops."

soundoff (298 Responses)
  1. j.r.

    Donald Rumsfeld. Yeah. Right.

    December 2, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  2. Aaron in Az

    If you lie enough some people will believe. wmd anyone?

    December 2, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Sgt. Harpo

    What do you expect from a coward and a liar.
    Rummy wasn't interestedd in the troops just his power base.
    he is no better than the bush.

    December 2, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. bawana

    well mr rummi you did such a fine job for us why don't you tell us what to do,,,,,ha ha ha ha,,,you need to shut up,,,,go to denmark ,,people at the hague are wanting to see you,,i am sure they will provide a nice bunk ,,so you can keep it warm for your lover boy cheney,,,and all the other crooks of the shrub admin

    December 2, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. Marc

    A picture of clueless being given instruction by the master. Priceless...

    December 2, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  6. buckeye

    The Grim Reaper requests more troops as well.

    December 2, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  7. Raul Dominguez

    Rumsfeld, like Cheney, are just trying to re-write history so they don't look as incompetent as they really were in office. This is a mess that President Obama or Senator McCain (if he had been elected President) would be trying to clean up.

    December 2, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. Jim

    Disservice to the truth is something Rumsfield is an expert in. The lying sack of bovine scatology.

    December 2, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  9. FactCheck

    Why isn't this fool in jail already?

    December 2, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. LYNETTE IN CA

    RUMSFELD STATING ANYTHING IS A HUGE MISSTATEMENT!

    Please don't state anymore! You screwed us up in the first place by not listening to the the generals on the ground!

    Note: "But Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since October of 2007, said Wednesday that the former top commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, had requested more troops during the previous administration, but they were sent to Iraq instead."

    That says it all!

    December 2, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  11. Mike from Brooklyn

    Bush & Co would love to re-write hostory but I hope the American people won't let them. And here we have Rummy trying to hide behind a sanctimonious reference to "the troops" when he let them down badly and repeatedly! It really offends me to read this stuff, just like it's unbearable to watch Cheney criticize Obama for taking his time to decide what to do about Afghanistan, when Cheney and Bush let the matter dangle for so many years!!! Obama has had to spend his first year in office trying to clean up after this criminally negligent administration.

    December 2, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  12. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    He doesn't matter – he's old America!

    December 2, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  13. Matthew

    I love the way the republicans instantly twist any criticism of their administration into a critique of the troops. What part of Obama's statement in any way disparages the troops?

    December 2, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. jim

    and this is news? we all have seen how negative the republicans have been since our president took office. this sort of thing from any republican has become expected.

    when will they just try to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem?

    December 2, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. Florida Joe

    Rumsfeld was totally inept........He should just slither away and take Cheney with him.............these guys left a huge mess for our President to deal with....................

    December 2, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  16. Dave Phillips

    Where was Donald Rumsfeld's need for the truth during the Bush administration's 8 years of lies?

    December 2, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  17. Dawn Ada, Ohio

    Why do these thugs keep on lying. Everyone knows that Afghanistan was not a priority and there is proof to back up what President Obama said.......so bring it on Rummy......you old washed up fart.

    December 2, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  18. Bill from CA

    Rumsfeld should just shut his mouth and be glad he's not standing trial for war crimes. What a complete piece of garbage.

    December 2, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  19. A

    I think Obama's comment are right on point Mr. Rumsfeld....

    December 2, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  20. Jim

    Barrys just making crap up left and right now. So glad you all elected an IDIOT!!

    God Help the USA!!

    December 2, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  21. SuperHiro

    Rumsfeld wasn't aware of any sort of request like that? Well I guess it's not too surprising. After all this is the guy who said the Iraq war would last 6 days. Yea... totally credible there Rumsfeld.

    December 2, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  22. Doyle Wiley, MI

    Mr. Rumsfeld, the fact that you and Bush had our soldiers fighting a war without the protective equipment needed to protect their lives is such a travesty that you shouldn't make any comments about the sacrifices that soldiers have made.

    And, by the way the President didn't misspeak it was public knowledge that troops shouldn't be sent to 'Afgan' because of the war in Iraq. As a US Air Force veteran I say this, Rumsfeld’s assertion does a disservice to the truth, and to the tens of thousands of soldiers in uniform who have fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan.

    It's better to remain quiet and be thought ignorant, than to speak and prove it.

    December 2, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  23. Mike B.

    Who does Rumsfeld think he is kidding? He is just a bold face liar, and a disgrace to the office of Secretary of Defense. He not only lied constantly about Iraq, he cannot remember (appairently) about Afghanistan either.

    What a disgrace to the people in uniform. Unbelievable.

    mike

    December 2, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  24. Scott

    ...and Rumsfeld speaks per his track record? Don't Rummy and Dickie ever acknowledge their failures? Still living in a state of irrational deniability.

    December 2, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  25. WhySoHypocritical?

    Easy for Obama to say he is listening and sending troops. At the time Bush was in office there was no way the military could have taken 30,000 troops from Iran and shifted them to Afghanistan. Obama points the finger to the past more than any president I have seen in my lifetime, when is going to understand he won the election and its time to quit running for election. For a man most of America was looking to show us some leadership all he has really done is make as many tv spots as he can and continue his campaign from last year...Oh yea, according to Obama's press secretary, Obama has already golfed more rounds than Bush did during his 8 years, way to go Barack! Way to go......

    December 2, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
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